Posted in 11/09/2008

São Paulo, 11/09/2008: The trial of the habeas-corpus ordered to benefit two chimpanzees that live at "Caminhos da Evolução" Sanctuary, located in Ibiuna (São Paulo state countryside) and affiliated to GAP Project, was interrupted last week by the Minister Herman Benjamin, from the Brazilian Superior Tribunal of Justice (STJ, in Portuguese). After some denials, the Minister asked to analyze better the order signed by businessman Rubens Forte, owner of the Sanctuary and currently the one in charge of the chimpanzees.

The chimpanzees Debby (Lili) and Megh, 4 and 3 years old, were born at "Paraíso Perdido", a private zoo in Fortaleza (capital of Ceara state, northeast of Brazil). This zoo has been closed by IBAMA in 2006, due to the lack of minimum operation conditions. Before the interception, they were donated to Rubens Forte and since then the ownership of the chimps has turned to  lawsuit and judicial procedures.

Last year the businessman had opened an order asking for the habeas-corpus in a regional tribunal, but it has been denied. But one decision made by a Judge that was analyzing the lawsuit consisted of reintegration of the chimpanzees in the nature, which is impossible to be done, according to IBAMA either. This fact created a stalemate and aiming Debby\’s and Lili\’s security, Fortes decided to apply for review in the STJ, with GAP Project\’s assistance.

The fact that a Minister from STJ is asking to analyze better a habeas-corpus order in favor of two chimpanzees can already be considered a breakthrough in the militancy of defense of great primates\’ rights. Brazil was the first country of the world that had a case of habeas-corpus to a chimpanzee accepted, but in a regional level, at Bahia state. In 2005, public prosecutor Heron Santana coordinated a case that is considered a world reference in the animal rights area. Together with professors, law students and animal defense organizations, Dr. Santana signed a habeas-corpus order in favor of chimpanzee Suiça, 23 years old, who had been living at Salvador zoo for 4 years.

After Suiça\’s partner, Geron, died of cancer, the chimpanzee started to behave weird, which could be considered a reason to be release and rehomed in a sanctuary. Suiça was the first animal in the world that had been recognized as one of the parts in a law suit, but she did not have time to enjoy the freedom. The approval of the habeas-corpus was informed one day after she had been found dead in her cage. Even with Suiça\’s death, the case accomplished a very important role and inspired a similar case in Austria, where two chimpanzees also fight for their right to life, to freedom and non-torture.

More information:
Jaqueline B. Ramos (GAP Project Brazil / International Communications Manager)
Telefones: +55 (11) 5564 9595, (12) 3923 4005, (12) 8134 5465  Skype: jaqueline.b.ramos